STORY OF MY WIFE, THE
(director/writer: Ildikó Enyedi; screenwriter: novel by Milán Füst; cinematographer: Marcell Rév; editor: Károly Szalai; music: Ádám Balázs; cast: Lea Seydoux(Lizzy), Louis Garrel (Dedin), Sergio Rubini (Kodor), Gijs Naber (Jakob Störr), Luna Wedler (Grete), Jasmine Trinca (Viola), Josef Hader (Blume), Ulrich Matthes (Lange, psychiatrist), Udo Samel (Detective Voss); Runtime: 169; MPAA Rating: NR; producer;Mónika Mécs, Erno Mesterhazy, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Flaminino Zadra, Pila Saavdre Perrotta, Stéphane Parthenay, Robin Boespflug-Vonier, Andras Muhi: M&M Film; 2021-Hungary/France/Italy/Germany-in English)
“The overlong film at three-hours is plodding and not up to the illustrious filmmaker’s other works.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Hungarian helmer Ildikó Enyedi (“On Body and Soul”/”Mole “) adapts to the screen in an arthouse fashion and in English, the novel by Milán Füst, a stream of consciousness work told in seven chapters. The book location is London, which is changed in the film to Hamburg. The overlong film at three-hours is plodding and not up to the illustrious filmmaker’s other works.
In the 1920s, the middle-aged bearded Dutch freighter captain, Jakob Störr (Gijs Naber, Dutch actor), is seated for lunch in a posh cafe in Paris with the cynical Kodor (Sergio Rubini), who suggests that getting married would make him happy. The Captain replies that he’ll marry the next girl to enter the cafe. Lizzy (Lea Seydoux) is that woman, who immediately upon entering the cafe is proposed to by the Captain. In a playful gesture she accepts, and they wed. On their honeymoon they play strip poker and get along famously until he must go out to sea.
Each chapter takes them to a different turn in their marriage. The Captain is made for the sea, where he revels in being the strong silent type. In society he feels awkward and out of place.
At sea the Captain’s head is filled with wild thoughts about his wife having an affair in their Paris apartment. He becomes jealous of her dead-beat parasitic writer friend Dedin (Louis Garrel), but we are not sure if he has anything to worry about there.
The couple move to Hamburg, where Storr, with his wife’s approval, has an affair with a girl (Luna Wedler) impressed with his seamanship swagger. The Captain’s jealousy turns off the liberated Lizzy and they grow apart, and they go through a rough time playing cat and mouse games with each other.
Things go in a different direction with a surprising ending. But it doesn’t work because Lizzie’s character is never developed and we only see her through the Captain’s eyes. This makes her not believable. It’s also not helped that the film has no resolution and it becomes too trying to keep up with all its pretenses. But its photography at sea is stunning, as the offbeat film seems to work better when its out to sea.
REVIEWED ON 7/21/2021 GRADE: C